Former Seemans Lane Army facility planned as new emergency operations center

There have been several ideas over the past five years about what to do with a former military facility on Seemans Lane.

At different times it was considered as a new health department office; Milford police also talked about using the site.

Recently, the Board of Aldermen voted to pursue plans to use the building and property to create a local and regional emergency operations center and emergency management support facility.

Officials said there won’t be activity on the site that would interrupt or distract students across the street at Meadowside Elementary School.

Primarily, it will be used for storage, but would likely see more activity, such as meetings, during major storms and other emergencies.

The property is a former U.S. Army facility, most recently used as a mechanical service station for military motorized vehicles and equipment.

Before it was used as a repair facility, it was an operational support facility for the Nike missile program.

“The facility was phased out of active military operation and is undergoing the process of transitioning from federal property to local municipal ownership,” according to city documents. “Acquisition of this property is conditional on its use exclusively for public safety.”

Col. Gary Puryear, the base transition coordinator who has been working with the city to complete the process of acquiring the building, said that because of recent storms in the area, the government is very likely to approve the emergency operations center plan.

“At the national level, we know this area has been hit by storms,” he said. “So there is a great interest in supporting this.”

The building and property will be used for storage and maintenance of large pieces of equipment and large vehicles, and bulk supplies, such as the ready meals that were stored in the city after Hurricane Sandy. Offices within the building will be used to support emergency operations.

“There are two large spaces which are extremely versatile and could serve multiple purposes in a day-to-day use, as well as in support of large-scale operations,” states a facility proposal.

The site’s proximity to Stop & Shop, Route 1, a gas station, and Milford Hospital is seen as a plus in terms of its use as an emergency operations center.

The city is already storing emergency vehicles there, and has been since storms Irene and Sandy.

Robert Gregory, the city’s economic development director, said the Fire Department would be in charge of the building.

He said other cities in Region 2, including Orange, Woodbridge and part of the Valley, would be able to store equipment there if it was intended for emergency operations.

The building is 17,000 square feet and sits on 2.3 acres of land.

Responding to a question from Alderman Paula Smith, Mayor Ben Blake said there is no immediate cost to renovate the facility because it will be used only for storage. If grants become available, he said, the city can consider renovations.

Puryear said he will work to move the proposal forward, and the city may have full ownership by fall.